Genetic Study Adds Fuel To The Coyote Hybrid Debate
A genetic study finds that wolves in the eastern United States are hybrids of gray wolves and coyotes, while coyotes in this same region are actually hybrids of wolves, coyotes, and dogs. Both are endangered species whose origins have long been the subject of debate.
This research used information from the dog genome to analyze the genetic diversity in dogs, wolves and coyotes. Specifically, researchers used molecular genetic techniques to examine over 48,000 markers throughout the genome to find a gradient of hybridization in the wolves.
In the West, researchers found wolves to be pure wolf, though in the western Great Lakes they were 85% wolf and 15% coyote. Wolves in eastern Ontario (Algonquin Park) were found to be on average 58% wolf, while the red wolf of North Carolina was identified as 24% wolf and 76% coyote. Northeastern coyotes, on the other hand, were found to be 82% coyote, 9% dog, and 9% wolf.